Monday, September 24, 2007

St. Stephen I, King of Hungary, on How Immigration Makes a Country Strong

I wanted to refer to this during the immigration debate, but couldn't find it on the web, although the quotation is well known among writers on ethnicity and nationalism. Fortunately I have come into a copy, courtesy of a Hungarian colleague:

It is from St. Stephen's (Istvan) Admonition to His Son St. Emery (Imre), dated to before A.D. 1031:

The guests and newcomers [foreigners] are of so much service that they may rightly be ranked sixth among the royal dignitaries . . . For as the guests arrive from different parts and provinces, so they bring with them different tongues and customs, different examples and weapons, and all this adorns the country and enhances the splendor of the court while deterring foreigners from overweening contempt. For a country of one single language and one set of customs is weak and vulnerable. Therefore I enjoin on you, my son, to protect newcomers benevolently and to hold them in high esteem so that they should stay with your rather than dwell elsewhere.

The picture is of the famous "Crown of St. Stephen," part of the traditional regalia of the Hungarian king.